Barbara Bodichon Ayrton

Barbara Bodichon Ayrton

b: 3 APR 1886
d: OCT 1950

From "Hertha Ayrton: A Memoir" by Evelyn Sharp, publ Edward Arnold, London, 1926:

p.124, 125, about 1891: Barbara, like her father, was fair-haired and blue-eyed, though her mother had black hair and 'brilliant' colouring. Relations between Hertha and her daughter were always good. She wrote to Professor Ayrton on one occasion: "[Barbie] told me the other day that your tastes depended on the way you were made. 'You see, mother, Billy likes lessons and reading and all that sort of thing, and I like climbing and running and riding and swimming and gymnastics...........' She and I have made a bargain that if she'll read a story to herself every wet day, as well as doing her reading with me every day, that she shall no longer be twitted with her ignorance, nor have stories of other little girls brought up against her. It was her own suggestion!" When she was staying with Aunt Edith (Mrs Chaplin) Barbie sobbed uncontrollably when her father sprained his ankle, and when adjured to cheer up because it was not a serious injury, had asked in surprise (remembering a recent tragedy with regard to a pet dog that was run over): "But won't he have to be shot?"

p.153: Letter from Hertha to Edie, about Barbara, who was at Notting Hill High School, in 1901: "Barbie is taking to her school work as she never has before. I am very glad I sent her there; for the first time in her life she is working seriously, and consequently she is enjoying it instead of finding it a grind. She is splendidly well, full of spirits and throwing her whole energies into her work. I am giving her coaching in all the back work of the mathematics which she has more or less forgotten, and she is eager to have it, though it means two or three hours a day extra work, sometimes. In fact, never was there such a metamorphosis!"

p.154: Barbie: "I do wish mother had a boudoir, all filled with yellow satin furniture, instead of a baloratory - like the mothers of other girls!" But a short time later her mother wrote to her "I am very glad to hear you are taking an interest in politics, and that you read the newspaper and talk about it. I don't know why we don't talk about politics more at home; perhaps because we are more interested in other things. But I AM interested in my fellow-creatures, which is, after all, what politics are; and you shall read the papers to me in the evening and we will discuss them together....."

From Who's Who 1897-1996 - a CD on PC D17 at the Family Records Centre:

Barbara Bodichon Ayrton Gould: Edn: Notting Hill High School, University College London; Address: 74a Philbeach Gardens SW5; Work: Publicity Manager, Daily Herald 1919-1921; Organising Secretary National Society of Lunacy Reform till 1923; Parliamentary candidate for Northwich, Cheshire, 1924, 29 & 31, for Hulme Division of Manchester General Election 1935; Member of Royal Commission on Civil Service 1929-31; Member Labour Party Distressed Areas Commission 1936-37; Executive Member of Labour Party 1929-1950; Vice Chairman Labour Party 1938; Chairman 1939-40; Vice-Chairman of British Council; Standing Joint Committee of Working Womens Organisation, Chairman 1932-33.

From The Times, 16 October 1950:

Mrs Ayrton Gould. An inspiring leader.

Mrs Barbara Bodichon Ayrton-Gould, the widow of Gerald Gould, the poet and critic, and the former chairman of the Labour Party, who died in London on Saturday night, was for nearly 30 years one of the most prominent women among its leaders, and for five years -- from 1945 to 1950 -- was Labour MP for Hendon North.

Daughter of the late Professor W. E. Ayrton, F. R. S., and the late Mrs Hertha Ayrton, M. I. E. E., the distinguished woman engineer and inventor, she was born into and reared in an atmosphere of radical thought which influenced her early days and then directed her entire life. Even before she had completed her education, first at the Notting Hill High School and then at University College, London, she was concerning herself with politics and affairs, and was an active suffragist, one of her earliest offices being that of Secretary of the United Suffragist movement before the vote was finally won. Already she was associated with the Independent Labour Party and the National Labour Party, and with her husband and a number of brilliant young friends of the Left was a leading member of the old 1917 Club in the years after 1918. For a while she was associated with the late Mr George Lansbury in the production of the Daily Herald, and from 1919 to 1921 acted as its publicity manager. Then for nearly three years she was organising Secretary of the National Society for Lunacy Reform until she began to devote herself almost exclusively to Labour politics.

Three times she was Parliamentary candidate for Northwhich (Cheshire) -- in 1924, 1929, and 1931; and in the 1929 fight she was defeated by only four votes by Lord Colum Crichton Stewart. In 1935 Mrs Gould, contested the Hulme division of Manchester, but she had to wait ten years before entering the House of Commons as representative for North Hendon. At Westminster she was a most useful and assiduous member, not speaking very often but always with authority, and she was particularly effective in committee as well as in personal service for her constituents, to whom she was always accessible without question of interest or party. In July last she lost her seat to Mr Orr-Ewing by 2,225 votes and had already announced that owing to ill-health she would not again contest the seat.

Mrs Gould had been a member of the National Executive of the Labour Party since 1930, and it was in that capacity that she was most active and will always be best remembered. She was a woman of great energy and imagination, and was especially a gifted administrator. In 1938 she became vice-chairman of the party, and 12 months later succeeded to the senior office, which she held in the first year of the Second World War, when great burdens and responsibility fell upon her. She had genuine compassion for suffering of any kind, was always rebellious at any sign of injustice, and she was a great protagonist of individual freedom. From 1929 to 1931 she sat on the Royal Commission on the Civil Service, and in 1936-37 was a member of the Labour Parties Distressed Areas Commission. For many years she was a member of the Standing Joint Committee of Working Women's Organisations. She had been a member of the Arts Council and was vice-chairman of the British Council.

Her husband died in 1936 and there is one son of the marriage, Mr Michael Ayrton, as he is known professionally, the artist and illustrator.

From the News Chronicle, 16 October 1950

She fought to protect unhappy children.

A lifetime spent trying to make other lives happier has ended. Mrs Barbara Aurton Gould died in London this weekend.

But by the fulfilments of a generation still young, she will be remembered; for of all the battles Barbara Ayrton Gould fought, the dearest to her heart was that for ill-treated children. Time and again, as an MP, she told of family conditions that stirred the House of Commons. "In spite of all that has been done for the welfare of children in the past 10 years," she said one day last December, "we have not yet found a way to protect unhappy children from the callous brutality of their own relatives."

It was that day that Mrs Ayrton Gould won her great victory - the House accepted her demand for a committee to inquire into these childrens' plight. Those who knew her will say that right to the illness which caused her to withdraw her candidature for the Labour Party Executive this month - she had been a member for 21 years - the spirit of Mrs Ayrton Gould was as keen and warm as in those early 1900s when the call was "Votes for women." And when the votes were won she became one of the few suffragettes who went to Parliament to help administer them. There were four unsuccessful fights at the hustings. Then North Hendon elected her in 1945. In her five years at Westminster it was usually in the fights closest touching human distress that she was a rallying force.

She always refused to speak of her age and her family will now keep her secret. Her husband, Mr Gerald Gould, poet and critic, died in 1936. Her son is Mr Michael Ayrton, the painter and author. Miss Alice Bacon, MP, newly appointed chairman of the Labour Party, when she heard of Mrs Aurton Gould's death, said yesterday: "Nobody could have worked for a better of more steadfast colleague. She fought, and fought bravely to the end."

  • 3 APR 1886 - Birth - ; 25 Hornton Street, Kensington, London
  • OCT 1950 - Death - ; London
  • ABT 1906 - Fact -
  • 1907 - Fact -
  • 1908 - Fact -
  • JAN 1909 - Fact -
  • 1912 - Fact -
  • 1914 - Fact 14 -
Edward Nugent Ayrton
13 MAR 1815 - 28 NOV 1873
William Edward Ayrton , F.R.S.
14 SEP 1847 - 6 NOV 1908
Barbara Bodichon Ayrton
3 APR 1886 - OCT 1950
Levi Marks
ABT 1817 - 1861
Phoebe Sarah (Hertha) Marks
28 APR 1854 - 26 AUG 1923
Family Group Sheet - Child
PARENT (M) William Edward Ayrton , F.R.S.
Birth14 SEP 1847London (see obituary)
Death6 NOV 1908 41, Norfolk Square, Hyde Park, London, England
Marriage21 DEC 1871to Matilda Charlotte Chaplin , M.D. at Saint Matthew, Bayswater, Kensington.
Marriage6 MAY 1885to Phoebe Sarah (Hertha) Marks at Mr and Mrs Hancock's house in Queen's Gate
FatherEdward Nugent Ayrton
MotherEmma Sophie Althof
PARENT (F) Phoebe Sarah (Hertha) Marks
Birth28 APR 1854Portsea, at 6, Queen Street, her mother's old home, over her father's business premises. She was third child.
Death26 AUG 1923 New Cottage, North Lancing, Sussex. Cremation at Golders Green
Marriage6 MAY 1885to William Edward Ayrton , F.R.S. at Mr and Mrs Hancock's house in Queen's Gate
FatherLevi Marks
MotherAlice Theresa Moss
FBarbara Bodichon Ayrton
Birth3 APR 188625 Hornton Street, Kensington, London
DeathOCT 1950London
MarriageJUL 1910to Gerald Gould
Family Group Sheet - Spouse
PARENT (M) Gerald Gould
MarriageJUL 1910to Barbara Bodichon Ayrton
FatherCecil Arbuthnot Gould , Sr
MotherAlice Emily Joyce
PARENT (F) Barbara Bodichon Ayrton
Birth3 APR 188625 Hornton Street, Kensington, London
DeathOCT 1950 London
MarriageJUL 1910to Gerald Gould
FatherWilliam Edward Ayrton , F.R.S.
MotherPhoebe Sarah (Hertha) Marks
MMichael Ayrton
Birth20 FEB 1921(St) Pancras, London
Death17 NOV 1975
Marriage1951to Elisabeth Walshe
[S12758] Ann Gregory (Mendell)'s copy of 'A short account of the Families of Chaplin and Skinner........' with annotations by Ayrton Chaplin & others
[S37942] Raymond Airton emails etc from 19 July 2006 (and some earlier)
[S28950] Hertha Ayrton 1854-1923: A Memoir by Evelyn Sharp. Edward Arnold & Co, 1926
Descendancy Chart
Barbara Bodichon Ayrton b: 3 APR 1886 d: OCT 1950
Gerald Gould b: 1885 d: 1936
Michael Ayrton b: 20 FEB 1921 d: 17 NOV 1975